Meri Awaaz Hi Pehchaan Hai: A Soap That Should Have Been a Musical

A story about Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle could have been the perfect way to bring musicals to Indian TV. 

3 min read
Deepti Naval and Amrita Rao play the lead roles in &amp;TV’s new show <i>Meri Awaaz Hi Pehchaan Hai</i> (Photo: Yogen Shah)

Meri Awaaz Hi Pehchaan Hai is the new show on the block that everyone’s talking about. Why? Well, not only does it mark Amrita Rao’s TV debut, but it also has a stellar star cast with Pallavi Joshi, Deepti Naval and Zarina Wahab playing lead roles. But more than that, it seems to be based on the sibling rivalry between India’s most iconic playback singers, Lata and Asha Mangeshkar. Though the dramatisation might have hints of reality, but apart from the main premise, one can’t really connect the story being told here, to what really unfolded between the Mangeshkar sisters. While we haven’t seen Amrita Rao yet and have heard only one classical number, I feel this should’ve been a musical rather than a soap.

So the story takes off in flashback when the ‘Gaikwad’ sisters were little girls. Kalyani and Ketki don’t play games, they rehearse and hone their classical talent under their loving father Rajaram (Bhanu Uday). It’s a happy home in a small place called Nagothane in rural Maharashtra. Devika (Pallavi Joshi) is a loving and encouraging mother, the only non-artist in the family. The crisis at hand is that they’re not very well off. Friends and family advise Rajaram to sell off his prized possession, a defunct theatre where Rajaram’s traditional Marathi music group performs and practices.

But, who wants to listen to boring classical stuff in the age of Bollywood item numbers and film music, right? So every time the question of selling Rang Sangeet crops up, the Gaikwads tear up, literally. It’s the air that this artistic family lives on after all, or so the sometimes overly dramatic dialogues suggest.

So far the Gaikwad sisters are inseparable. Though the fact that they’re poles apart is palpable already. Kalyani the older one is simple and a bit old school, while the younger one Ketki is more aggressive, savvy and new age. I guess fame and money will bring the much awaited conflict when Amrita Rao (Kalyani) and Aditi Vasudev (Ketki) take over our screens.

The present day Gaikwad sisters (Deepti Naval and Zarina Wahab) though, make sure that they’re never in the same place at the same time. They hate each other that much! But the reason behind this animosity is still a real mystery.

Ok, so here’s the real question I have for Nivedita Basu, the series producer for this one and Ex-Creative Head of Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms- why the low production for a story that could be told a lot more aesthetically? You have to see Pallavi Joshi’s prosthetic face to believe how bad a makeup job can get. Little Kalyani playing the sitar is nothing short of a miracle, because she’s not even touching the damn strings! Seems like corners were cut on the much needed acting workshops. And the extras look just as fake as they do in every other TV soap. Ekta Kapoor seems to have passed on the worst of her aesthetics to long time aide Basu. Even though the lack of detailing is a huge distraction, the performances and the storytelling have good potential.

Three episodes down, I hope the plot isn’t stretched and pulled and drawn out till we’re left with zero interest in what could become a chewing gum of a show. A nice ending, a finite story is a rarity on Indian television, that we would be glad to witness. Credit however is all your Ms Basu to have taken on a story that revolves around such real characters, who are non glamorous grandmothers now.

It’s a brave attempt to fight the naagins, warewolves and chudails of Indian TV for TRPs. But in its choice of subject and actors, &TV’s Meri Awaaz Hi Pehchaan Hai has the potential to raise the bar and bring about some much needed intellect to storytelling on Indian television. For the moment, here’s the real inspiration behind the show. 

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